Poetry

WHAT THE BROOK TAUGHT ME

~ by BABY KATTACKAL

Kerala, India

IN THE RIGHT AMBIENCE,

I GREW UP,

THAT PAVED THE WAY,

FOR ME TO LEARN.

 

FROM  NATURE, FROM  ITS SIGNS,

THEIR TRUE INTERPRETATIONS,

RIGHT FROM MY BOYHOOD,

MY VALUABLE  EXPERIENCE.

 

IT’S   A SMALL BROOK THAT FLOWED

NEAR MY HOME,

THAT TAUGHT ME TO OBSERVE

 AND HOW TO TRANSLATE,

 

THE NATURE’S ELOQUENT SIGNS,

INTO VALID EXPERIENCES,

YES, IT WAS THE BROOK, THE NATURE,

MY FIRST TEACHER.

 

FROM THE BROOK  I COULD LEARN

MUCH, PERHAPS MUCH MORE

  OF  NATURE’S SIGNS

THE CLUES FOR ENLIGHTENMENT.

 

I WAS A BOY THEN

SILLY, PLAYFUL, THOUGH, I ANSWERED

THE KNOCKING AT MY DOOR

OF ENLIGHTENMENT.

 

THE BROOK BECKONED ME,

WITH ITS RIPPLING, BUBBLING, WATERS,

LURED ME TO ITS VERDANT BANKS,

THE RIGHT AMBIENCE FOR A PLAYFUL BOY.

 

RUNNING, SOMERSAULTING,

SKIPPING STONES, IN THE WATERS,

JUGGLING WITH THE PEBBLES STREWN AROUND,

BUT ALL THE TIME WITH MY DEAR ONE.

 

BRUNIE, I CALL HER, MY CANINE FRIEND

ITS PRESENCE MADE ME SPRIGHTLY

FLAMBOYANT, SO EXCITED

FORGETTING  MYSELF.

 

ALL THE TIME THE BROOK WATCHING ….

OUR MOVEMENTS, OUR FRIVOLITIES,

WITH  FROTHING, FROLICKING  RIPPLES, ITS SMILES

WITH  RISING RIPPLES, IT’S RHYTHMIC, JOYOUS HEARTBEAT.

 

DAYS WENT ON UNEVENTFULLY,

MAKING EVERY TOMORROW, TODAY

AND EVERY TODAY, YESTERDAY,

UNFAILINGLY,

 

ADDING ONE MORE LINK EACH, EVERY DAY

 TO THE LONG CHAIN

OF REMOTENESS,

YES, THE LONG CHAIN OF THE PAST

 

OUR LIVES MOVE FORWARD

  FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT

AND THEN TO THE FUTURE

FINALLY TO MERGE INTO ETERNITY.

 

AND THE TIME MOVE,

FROM THE FUTURE,

TO THE PRESENT,

AND THEN TO THE REMOTE PAST.

 

NATURE’S  PRE-SET WAYS,

OF OPPOSING MOTIONS,

THE FIRST LESSON I LEARNT,

OBSERVING  THE  NATURE.

 

IT’S MY CLOSE ASSOCIATION,

 WITH NATURE,

THAT CAN BE CALLED LIVING IN NATURE,

THAT BROUGHT ME THE ENLIGHTENMENT,

 

LEARNING FROM NATURE,

IS NOT MUNDANE KNOWLEDGE,

AS WE GET FROM BOOKS,

AND CLASSROOMS.

 

BUT ENLIGHTENMENT,

ETHEREAL, INTUITIVE,

THE SUPER KNOWLEDGE,

AND OBSERVATION, ITS TOOL.

 

 ONCE I WAS PLAYING

AS USUAL, WITH MY BRUNIE,

ON THE BANKS OF THE BROOK,

AND THEN IT HAPPENED.

 

ACCIDENTALLY  I STEPPED ON

THE HIND LEG OF MY BROONIE.

NEVER BEFORE I SAW HER,

IN  SUCH A TRUCULENT MOOD.

 

SHE SURPRISINGLY WAGED,

 AN ATTACK ON ME,

WHICH WAS QUITE UNEXPECTED

AND UNBECOMING OF HER.

 

I GOT THE SHOCK OF MY LIFE

I LOST MY TEMPER TOO, MOMENTARILY

GOADING ME INTO THAT CRUEL ACT

QUITE UNBECOMING OF ME, TOO.

 

I KICKED, SCOOPING  IT

INTO THE FLOWING WATERS

OF THE BROOK,

IN MY SUDDEN FIT OF RAGE.

 

THE BROOK READILY RECEIVED

THE  STRUGGLING BROONI, SANS ANY COMMOTION,

IN A CALM AND COOL DISPOSITION,

KEEPING ITS MENTAL BALANCE,INTACT.

 

IT WAS AGAIN NATURE’S SIGN, A VITAL,

POSITIVE LESSON  FOR ME,

“WHAT HAS BEEN DONE,

CANNOT BE UNDONE”.

 

AND  A FOREBODING LESSON,

“NEVER TO LOSE TEMPER,

AT ANY COST,

BUT BEHAVE WITH FORBEARANCE”.

 

THE LEARNING, HELPED ME

 REGAIN MY MENTAL PEACE,

AND BALANCE,

REMORSEFUL THOUGH.

 

BY THAT TIME BROONI,

WITH HER BROKEN LEG,

UNABLE TO SWIM AHSORE,

DISAPPEARED FROM VIEW, ONCE AND FOR ALL.

 

WEEKS DISSOLVED INTO MONTHS,

AND MONTHS INTO YEARS

THE PASSAGE OF TIME

MADE ME DIFFERENT.

 

I CAST OFF MY FRIVOLITIES,

 LEARNING FROM NATURE,

MATURE THINKING CREPT INTO ME,

MY PERSPECTIVE  OF LIFE CHANGED,

 

I WATCHED THE WORLD

FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE,

WITH AN OPEN HEART,

I TURNED MORE OBSERVANT.

 

MY ASSOCIATION WITH  THE BROOK, THE NATURE,

 SO CLOSE, SHARPENED MY SENSES TO OBSERVE

MORE KEEN, THAT MADE ME TREK THROUGH,

NATURE’S  STRANGE PATHS.

 

THAT HELPED OPEN MY EYES,

INTO THE HIDDEN DIFFERENCE,

BETWEEN LEARNING AND STUDYING,

A SUBTLE  BUT VITAL DIFFERENCE.

 

 I LEARNT, WE NEVER STUDY FROM NATURE,

AS WE, IN THE CLASSROOM,

AS THEY ARE THE FINDINGS OF OTHERS

TAUGHT BY A TEACHER MEDIUM.

 

WE, BEING TAUGHT BY SOMEONE,

THEN  THROUGH READING BOOKS,

WE ACQUIRE  THE KNOWLEDGE

SECONDARY KNOWLEDGE, THEY ARE.

 

FROM NATURE, WE ARE NEVER SAID TO STUDY,

BUT LEARN ORIGINALLY,

OBSERVING THE NATURE DIRECTLY

 IMBIBING LESSONS, ALL BY OURSELVES,

 

THE MORE WE ARE CLOSE TO NATURE,

THE MORE WE LEARN FROM NATURE,

THROUGH ITS  SIGNS AND CLUES,

DRILLING INTO THE ABSTRUSE MIND OF NATURE.

 

TO ME THE BROOK IS  NOW,

AN EPITOME OF EQUANIMITY,

THE LESSON I LEARNT FROM ITS CALM,

 AT THE TRAGIC END OF MY BROONIE.

 

TO ME THE BROOK WAS NOT SOMETHING

THAT MERELY CARRIED  AWAY  THE WATER,

NOT ONE THAT HAD SILENTLY WITNESSED

THE CHANGES BROUGHT IN, BY THE PASSAGE OF TIME.

 

NOT ONE THAT HAD MERELY WITNESSED,

THE CHANGE OF GENERATIONS,

NOT ONE THAT WITNESSED THE GRIEF

OF THE BYGONE ONES AND BID THEM GOOD-BYE.

 

AND NOT ONE MERELY TO RECEIVE,

THE NEW GENERATIONS, AND WITNESS

THEIR JOYOUS  EXUBERANCE,

EXCITEMENT AND EXHILARATIONS.

 

BUT ONE THAT HAD PATIENTLY STOOD

THE VAGARIES OF THE CHANGING SEASONS,

THE GUSTS OF WINDS, THE BURNING HEAT  OF THE SUN,

THE HEAVY SPLASH OF RAIN,

 

AND MORE, THE PRICKLY  CHILL OF  WINTER,

THE WINTER WINDS THAT MAKE IT MORE PERVASIVE,

THE HAZEY VISIONS,

GHOSTLY, SPECTRAL.

 

I LEARNT THE BROOK WAS  THE ONLY ONE,

THAT PLACIDLY MERGED WITH THE LIFE,

OF GENERATIONS ON THE EARTH,

AND BECAME PART OF THEIR LIFE,

 

THEIR LIFE’S HOPES,

HOW TO SHAPE THEM INTO REALITIES,

THAT GIVES A BOOST TO  THEIR LIVES,

ON EARTH.

 

FRUSTRATIONS,

HOW TO FACE THEM TACTFULLY,

TO TURN THEM IN THEIR FAVOUR,

OR HOW TO COPE UP WITH THEM.

 

HOW TO FACE THE TRIBULATIONS OF THEIR LIFE,

OR HOW TO OUTLIVE THEM,

JUST AS THE BROOK ITSELF HAD WITHSTOOD,

THE TEST OF TIME……….

 

IT HAD WITNESSED

THE CHANGING FASHIONS,

AND THE LIFESTYLE OF GENERATIONS,

WITH EQUANIMITY.

 

SHOWING THEM THE VALUES

OF TRADITIONS, ALL THE SAME,

BY TAGGING ITSELF

WITH OLD TRADITIONS.

 

FROM AGES IMMEMORIAL

THE BROOK WAS THE SAME,

NOT GIVEN TO CHANGES WROUGHT ABOUT,

BY THE EFFLUX OF TIME.

 

WHENEVER I WAS ON THE BANKS

OF THE BROOK,

IT TAUGHT ME  MORE LESSONS,

TO LEARN FROM NATURE.

 

AS  I GREW, I COULDN’T THINK OF A JOB,

OTHER THAN THE ONE OF A SAILOR,

FOR I WAS SO WELDED TO WATER,

A RARE KIND OF MERGING.

 

THE BROOK TAUGHT ME HOW TO MEDDLE

WITH WATER FEARLESSLY,

AND HOW INTERESTING WAS,

THE LIFE  OF A SAILOR.

 

AS I GRADUATED,  I DIDN’T HAVE TO WAIT

ON THE CROSSROADS, NOT KNOWING

WHICH WAY TO ADVANCE IN MY LIFE,

AS MY PLANS WERE ALREADY MADE.

 

THE BROOK HELPED SHAPE

THE VISIONS  OF MY LIFE,

AND I HADN’T TO THINK TWICE,

BEFORE  I EMBRACED THE JOB OF A SAILOR.

 

IT DAWNED ON ME, HOW THE BROOK

LOVED ME, HOW I LOVED IT,

HOW IT TAUGHT ME WHAT REAL LOVE IS!

WHAT  MATURE, SENSIBLE LOVE IS!

 

AS A YOUTH, I FELL IN LOVE WITH CLARA,

AN EPITOME OF BEAUTY,

A STUDENT IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LISBON,

FROM WHERE I TOO HAD MY DEGREE.

 

INITIALLY, IT WAS A KIND OF COURTSHIP,

WHENEVER  I WAS ON LEAVE,

I USED TO TAKE HER TO THE BROOK

 AND TAUGHT  HER ITS LANGUAGE.

 

I TOLD HER IT WAS THE BROOK

THAT TAUGHT ME,

THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE,

OF TRUE LOVE, AT THAT.

 

ONCE I ASKED HER

WHAT  TRUE LOVE IS.

LOOKING AT ME SHE ANSWERED

WITH  THE ELOQUENCE OF A YOUTHFUL DAME;

 

“TRUE LOVE IS MUTUAL FAITH,

MUTUAL TRUST,

MUTUAL EXCHANGE

OF HEARTS,

 

SHE PAUSED AND THEN CONTINUED……….

MUTUAL LONGING FOR TOGETHERNESS

AND THE FONDLY FEELINGS OF MINDS

TOWARDS EACH  OTHER”.

 

I TOOK EXCEPTIONS,

” TRUE  LOVE IS NOT ALL THAT

IT CAN’T BE DEFINED,

WORDS  ARE HARD TO COME BY, TO DEFINE,

 

IT’S A FEELING,

 IT’S AN EXPERIENCE,

 WE IMBIBE FROM NATURE,

THAT’S WHAT THE BROOK HAD TAUGHT ME.

 

WHY WAS APPOLLO FLYING FROM DAPHNE,

 HIS ONE TIME LOVE?

THEIR HEARTS NEVER BEAT AT ONE,

TO EXPERIENCE TRUE LOVE.

 

OTHELLO’S LOVE  FOR  DESDEMONA

WASN’T TRUE,

HE DOUBTED DESDEMONA’S

FIDELITY.

 

HE COULD NEVER EXPERIENCE

DESDEMONA’S LOVE FOR HIM, A TRUE ONE

AND THAT GOADED HIM INTO

THAT DASTARDLY ACT OF KILLING HER.

 

SOMEONE HAD GIVEN,

A PLAUSIBLE DEFINITION,

 OF  TRUE LOVE,

A NEVER VIABLE KIND.

 

IT’S WHEN THE HEART GROWS,

AS BIG AS THE WORLD,

AND THE WORLD SHRINKS,

AS SMALL AS THE HEART.

 

BUT THIS DEFINITION IS GOOD

 FOR POETS WITH HIGH-FLYING

IMAGINATIONS,

LACKING IN PRACTICAL WISDOM.

 

IT’S NOT FUNCTIONAL,

IT’S DEVOID OF THE ESSENCE OF TRUE LOVE,

IT HASN’T THE TOUCH OF NATURE,

AND SO IT FAILS TO BE REALISTIC.

 

REAL LOVE IS ONLY,

TO BE EXPERIENCED,

YOU SEE A FRUIT,

YOU AREN’T ABLE TO TELL,

 

IF IT’S GOOD, EDIBLE,

FOR, YOU HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED IT,

EXPERIENCE IS REALISTIC,

THAN SWEET COATED WORDS.

 

SPEAKING HIGH OF LOVE,

 AND GIVING GLIBLY WORDED

PROMISES, IS THE USUAL HACKNEYED

 METHOD OF LOVE.

 

ROMANTIC THOUGH,

FEIGNING UTMOST SINCERITY, THOUGH,

IN THEIR HEARTS THEY ENTERTAIN

INSINCERE THOUGHTS.

 

THE LOVE OF THOSE WHO WALK,

 HAND IN HAND AND SIDE BY SIDE,

CROONING  LOVE SONGS, HAS  ONLY

THE LIFE OF A LOVE SONG, SO MOMENTARY.

 

THEY AREN’T TRUE TO EACH OTHER,

THEIR LOVE  SOON FADES AWAY,

LIKE THE DYING CADENCE,

OF A LOVE SONG.

 

IN THEIR HEARTS THEY ENTERTAIN

INSINCERE THOUGHTS

THAT CANNOT BE SHARED,

AND  THEIR LOVE NEVER BLENDS.

 

THEY ARE BELOVED INFIDELS

OWNING A MIND UNSTEADY

 WHO BREAKAWAY

AT THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION

 

WATCHING THE NATURE YOU GET THE CLUE

WHAT REAL LOVE IS”..

“THEN HOW COULD WE EXPERIENCE TRUE LOVE ?”

INTERCEPTED  CLARA.

 

“THE BEST PLACE TO EXPERIENCE

WHAT  TRUE LOVE  IS,

WHERE WE STAND NOW I MEAN THE BROOK,

ITS BANKS.

 

IF IT’S DAY TIME YOU SEE,

THE REFLECTION OF THE SUN

AND THE CUMULUS FLUFFY CLOUDS IN THE WATERS

AN ETERNAL SIGHT.

 

IN THE NIGHT YOU SEE,

 THE MOON AND THE STARS

AND THE CLOUDS IN A SIMILAR FASHION

ALWAYS, AN ETERNAL SIGHT TOO

 

THE FORCE OF THE RUSHING WATERS

 OF THE BROOK, THE FORCE OF CHANGING  SEASONS,

THE  FORCE OF THE PASSAGE OF TIME CANNOT UNDO

THEIR  INTEGRITY, THEIR MERGING, THEIR ONENESS.

 

WHAT DOES THIS SHOW?

IT’S THE   NATURAL, UNBREAKABLE BOND,

THE COHESION, THE INSEPERABILITY

OF  EVERLASTING LOVE, IT’S MERGING.

 

THEY MERGE IN THE DAYLIGHT

AND MERGE IN THE NIGHT, TOO,

THE MERGING IS ALWAYS THERE,

ARRESTINGLY CONSTANT,

 

UNABATED,INTACT ,SOLID

  AND THAT’S TRUE LOVE

AND THAT’S WHAT

THE BROOK HAD TAUGHT ME. 

 

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